Perceived, Objective and Symbolic Urban Space in Supilinn Tajuline, objektiivne ja sümboliline linnaruum Supilinnas

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Tiit Remm


Although Supilinn is often referred to as a town, it is not a separate town. It is rather a town district – but not in the strict sense of a subdivision of the local government, but rather as a thematic regional unit with citizens’ initiative-type management and active identity creation. However, it would be somewhat problematic to define Supilinn as an urban area, considering the concept of urbanism in the broader socio-cultural context and the local residents’ definition of identity, which often focuses on “villageness” (primarily in the sense of village communality). In turn, the latter is contradicted by the residents’ lifestyles, which are mostly urban, and the nature of the community identity is centralised, which matches the context of an urban culture. 

Supilinn can be viewed as a pseudo-urban pseudo-district, where people with strictly urban lifestyles try to believe that they live in a non-urban space, which comprises a separate district through its citizens’ initiative-related appreciation of the milieu, and for which, in the course of enthusiastic citizens’ initiatives, a written history has been created from an oral history (folklore). Although, at the level of facts and forms, it is hard to strictly differentiate between them, these histories have different functions in the culture.

Although Supilinn seems to have a somewhat meagre symbolic space, the development scenario described in the article shows that the Supilinn that is currently being created is itself a form of expression for a principle of today’s urban culture, in which authenticity and a search for roots is the correct classical idea, to which the sustainable rhetoric that is most sustainable at the moment is added. Perceivable and objective, as well as symbolic, space exists simultaneously in every urban space; however, in the case of Supilinn, what is currently noteworthy is the creation of a multi-based interpretation of urban space comprised of both of these. This type of dynamic cross-utilisation could create a contradictory, and even disintegrated, visualisation of urban space on a practical, descriptive and material level. Yet, we are dealing with a culturally creative process, where the various memory strata of the subjects, as well as ideals and comprehension of reality, meet and are actualised. In turn, the cultural creation finds expression and a materialised immortalisation in the creation of space. Although the spatial ordering may be considered to be one of the main topics of culture, what is occurring in Supilinn and its environs is predominantly space-centred, which is why Supilinn is facing a threat of becoming an exposition of objective Supilinn-like space, where the urban life process and shared symbols become insignificant. 

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